AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200
AKE "Stealth" Bluetooth
Intercom 200 Review
by HBC for webBikeWorld.com
Related Reviews: AKE
BT Multi-Interphone |
AKE Powercom |
AKE PowerCom INNOVA
Bluetooth Intercom Page |
Motorcycle Intercom Page
2010 Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Comparison and Final
The AKE Stealth Intercom Set 200 is not a heavyweight --
figuratively or literally -- but it is fully functional,
easy to use and it stands up well against newer systems.
Upside: Simple, clean design; small component size.
The intercoms have a low profile when mounted
externally, and they can also be hidden inside the
helmet. The intercoms are efficient and have
strong Bluetooth pairing and sound quality.
Downside: Low-power intercom with range limitations.
One half of the system (the
201i module) has limited functionality. The controls can be difficult to
access depending on location. Price is relatively
If classic styling, simplicity, reliability and a
discrete installation really counts, then the AKE Stealth
Intercom Set 200 Bluetooth system is worth a look.
Ever since completing the original AKE communications
system articles (see links above and in right column)
over the winter of 2007/2008 with publication in April
2008, I have wanted to get my hands on some of the newer
Bluetooth components produced by the company.
With an early-winter offer from the AKE
representative in Germany to provide their
Multi-Interphone Intercom (review) for an
evaluation, the opportunity to get an updated version of
the Bluetooth Helmet Set 200 system was seized.
Helmet Set 101 reviewed in April 2008 had been very
impressive, but it did not provide A2DP compatibility, a
feature now found in the 200 version.
So late last year (yes, it has been that long), a
package was received by the Editor and after a photo
session, he sent everything down to Florida where I was:
a.) Getting away from a (very mild) winter in the Ottawa
Valley and; b.) Shivering in the cold along with everyone
else in the southern U.S. at that time.
I didn’t get everything hoped for -- in theory leaving
something for future reviews -- but the components
provided are the minimum many users would be looking for
in a basic helmet system, including a basic
In the Box
The AKE Stealth 200 kit consists of a pair of very
small, very lightweight and very modular Bluetooth
helmet communication systems for a single rider, arider
with a passenger or for bike-to-bike communications.
As mentioned above, the Stealth Intercom Set 200 is
actually comprised of two physically identical but
functionally different Bluetooth modules: the Bluetooth
Stealth Helmet Set 201 and the Bluetooth Helmet Set
201i, where the 'I' identifies the Intercom module.
In summary, the 201 module is the primary unit
useable as a stand-alone Bluetooth helmet system while
the 201i is a dedicate intercom for the passenger or
second rider. Besides the modules, the AKE Stealth
Bluetooth Intercom 200 set is also packaged with the following:
Helmet microphone (boom
or thin-wire assembly)
Protective cases for
Accessory bag with spiral
cables and mounting items
Contents of the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom Set
The package I received only had one protective bag,
so a second one found its way to me via Bundespost
from Germany. The
AKE representative also coordinated the shipment of
additional spiral (flex) extender cables, along with two
North American style battery chargers, from Cohesive
Technology, their U.S. partner.
Like the original
AKE Powercom (review) the updated Bluetooth module
is slightly curved (to match the typical curve of a
helmet shell) and measure 19 mm wide x 116 mm long and 5
mm thick. The actual weight is 20 grams. The
battery is really diminutive, measuring 20 mm x 40 mm x
5 mm and just barely tipping the scales at five grams.
The small size and modularity of the system makes
installation in -- or on -- most helmets a relatively simple effort.
The unique feature of the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom
200 set is that the units can also be installed inside
the helmet for the "Stealth" effect.
Mounting the AKE 200 intercoms in the usual location
on the outside of the helmet is accomplished by using
the supplied hook-and-loop fasteners. Plastic
casings are provided with the kit, which can be used to
protect the externally mounted intercom units from the
elements. The casings are then secured to the
outside of the helmet with the provided fasteners.
But here's an unusual twist: the intercom units can
also be installed inside the helmet, thus the "Stealth"
name. In fact, the AKE 200 Bluetooth modules are
really meant to be
installed under the neck roll of the helmet if possible.
Space permitting, the system really does then become
"stealthy" and in fact, totally invisible, as I
discovered with my
Arai XD3 (review) helmet installations. A weekend
show-and-tell at a local dealer event proved the
attractiveness of this approach over and over again with
much interest from local motorcyclists.
The AKE 200 speakers can also be easily mounted in the
designated speaker locations of the
(review) helmet, resulting in
optimal placement. The thin wire of the microphone
can be mounted to the chin section of the rotating visor
on the N103 with a mini spiral cable
bridging the gap between the open and closed visor. Alternatively,
the boom microphone of the AKE 200 intercom sits securely in the
boom mic pocket that is molded into the N103 as part of
the Nolan N-Com system.
I put the AKE 200 module into one of the protective bags (a
tight fit) and used the supplied hook-and-loop tabs to
secure the bag to the bottom plastic trim of the helmet.
The buttons on the intercom are still easily manipulated through the
clear plastic face of the bag. Both the wiring and
the AKE 2000
battery can then be tucked inside the helmet shell.
A few changes have taken place since I
originally reported on the
AKE Powercom system; maybe some of our constructive
criticisms were taken to heart?
pressure (membrane) controls on the AKE 200 units have a
deeper recess, while the
charging port and charger connector are now coaxial,
making them sturdier and more positive to use than the
original snap-button connector.
The whole is truly a sum of the modular parts.
The main module harness has five mini-connector
leads, all clearly marked and colour coded. Yellow
for Left and Right speakers; Red for the battery; Blue
for the microphone (either thin wire or boom style); and
Black for an optional remote control connection.
My positive commentary on this design approach is
that it makes replacement or upgrading of components
simple and, equally important, allows a system to be
properly mounted in virtually any type of helmet.
In markets where dual speakers or the use of stereo devices
is not allowed or desired, then only one speaker need
be connected to the AKE 200 intercom module.
Differences Between the AKE 201 and
201i Intercom Modules
Each Stealth Bluetooth 201 Helmet Set module is
multi-functional and meant to be paired with compatible
Bluetooth devices such as mobile phones, navigation
devices and audio players. They support the
Headset, Hands-free and A2DP Bluetooth profiles.
The Stealth Bluetooth 201i module is more singular of
purpose. It supports the Headset profile and in
theory can be paired with all (AKE) Bluetooth headsets
or Bluetooth helmet sets that use the standard headset
AKE Claims the application of some innovative technology
has resulted in significantly increased operating ranges
for this system which is only rated as a Bluetooth Class
Two power device. So how well does this technology work
- quite well actually.
With the nominal range of Class Two devices (between
the headset and paired devices) normally in the order of
10 to 15 metres (33 to 49 feet), the Helmet Set 200
actually works up to 100 metres or 328 feet --
spectacular performance from such a low-powered system
and thus making it viable for use as a rider-to-rider
AKE Stealth Intercom 200 wiring harness (L).
Small battery (R).
Pairing the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200 Modules
For the most part, all of the newer motorcycle Bluetooth
intercom systems are absolutely stone simple to operate
and ultra reliable.
As expected, the AKE Bluetooth
does not disappoint. Pairing the 201 module with anything
is done "right now" and it never seems to forget its
unlike certain other major systems evaluated recently.
My basic test suite of Bluetooth-enabled devices or
peripherals that I use for all my communications system
evaluations and for daily use is as follows:
Bluetooth Adapters (BTA): AKE BTD-302 Audio Adapter,
iCombi AG 12, iCombi AP 21, Camos BH-200M (stereo and
mono), Alan BPA 100 (mono), wiREVO D1000 and Rocket Fish
Mobile Phones: Multi-function HTC Touch and Kyocera X-tc
devices and the more basic LG500, LG LX165 and Motorola
i335 mobile phones.
Navigation Devices: Garmin zumo 550, zumo 660, zumo 665
and the venerable BMW Navigator III+
This collection is a good cross-section of devices,
old and new, that helps to put a specific motorcycle
intercom or communications system through its paces
For me, communications is key, so the two modules
got paired up first. From Off, hold the 201
Multifunction button eight seconds until the Red/Blue LEDs begin to flash alternatively. Now power up the 201i
module the same way; its Red/Blue sequence will be a
The two AKE modules communicate almost instantly,
where they negotiate and form a partnership and, as indicated by a
single tone in the 201 headset, the intercom connection
Pairing the AKE 200 Intercom
System: Cell Phones, MP3 Players, GPS
For navigation devices, put the 201i in pairing mode
from Off and initiate pairing mode on the navigation
device. The first device up was my new zumo 665.
Discovery is seemingly instantaneous and three seconds
later the zumo found the "AKE Stealth HS201".
Tapping "OK" on the zumo’s screen provides the final
incentive for the two devices to pair and the
consequence being an audio stream pushed to the headset.
The zumo 660 and 665 devices stream mono navigation
audio to the headset and stereo audio when the onboard
media player is activated. The zumo 550 works just as
well, but in mono of course, as does the Navigator III+
although it is limited to navigation audio.
Even my aging and cranky HTC Touch was no match for
the 201 headset; the two devices paired up on a quick
first pass and from here it was a simple matter to
verify that both Wireless Stereo and Hands-free profiles
were being supported (they were).
This done, activating the media player resulted in
John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High being streamed into
the hi-fi headset in perfect stereo, with more than a
hint of bass. I had forgotten just how good the standard
40 mm AKE headsets are. The optional High-Sound items
would be even better.
For optimum configuration efficiency it is good to
spend a few minutes thinking of how the system and
peripherals will be used. In my case, pairing a
multi-function device like the HTC Touch directly to the
headset is both efficient and effective; the two
devices will negotiate which profile is available (used)
depending on the active function -- phone, music, etc.
If a basic mobile phone is used along with a
navigation device like the zumo 660 or 665, that device
hosts the phone with control provided by the phone
application on the navigation device. This allows the
multi-function navigation device to be the principle
peripheral for navigation, music and phone audio.
So like most good modern Bluetooth headset systems,
the 201 headset supports two simultaneous pairings with
different protocols and switches between them based on
system priority -- phone/navigation device, (intercom)
and media player.
Bluetooth Adapters for
Bluetooth adapters or BTAs are great little devices
that increase connection options. For Apple device
users, the Rocket Fish MBT30 and the
Chatterbox iCombi AP21 Bluetooth adapter (review) both work
fine with the iPod Classic.
For what it's worth, I
removed the thin plastic frame from the top of the AP21
housing: this exposes the multi-pin connector fully
making it useable with more iPod devices.
The AKE BTD 302 Bluetooth Music Transmitter,
AG 12 (review) and
(review) all paired up and pushed stereo
audio to the headset without intervention.
(Albrecht) BPA 100 (review), which has been reluctant to work with
other newer systems, worked fine with the 201 module --
albeit in mono only and activated via the Multifunction
Finally, the 200 module and the wiREVO D1000
Bluetooth Adapter that I use with the
Bluetooth stereo headset (review) discover each other and
seemingly connect, but no audio stream is initiated.
"Stealth" means hiding the
intercom unit inside the helmet (L). Speaker
AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200 -
Given the low power output, the intercom works extremely
well. Just remember that signal optimization (range and
quality) is gained by mounting the module under or on
the side of the helmet rather than the back.
With power output and antenna efficiency being two
critical issues with wireless systems, heeding
manufacturer recommendations regarding installation is
typically a good thing.
A short press of the 201 Multifunction button
initiates a session in two seconds. Audio is crystal
clear thanks to the excellent speakers and the booster
circuitry. The noise-compensating microphone works
extremely well in removing ambient noise during
Unfortunately, the individual wearing the 201i
equipped helmet is limited to intercom audio only. Only the
main 201 unit can initiate or terminate an intercom
session and the 201i, as the add-on module cannot pair
with or support any other Bluetooth devices.
The intercom is best used at separations of less than
100 metres (328 feet) and as with most Bluetooth systems
range is highly dependent on surroundings. Riding
through built-up areas and residential streets brings
effective reliable range down to 60 to 75 metres (196 to
246 feet) maximum. For many users and based on
prudent rider-to-rider separation, this is likely more
If intercom range is exceeded, the module (201)
searches for and then re-connects to the 201i when the
devices are within range of each other. This works
seamlessly with only the usual very low and unobtrusive
white noise typically announcing restoral.
Very small battery can be hidden
inside the helmet, while the thin intercom unit
hides under the neck roll.
The Functional View
True to its "Stealth" design (low profile and minimal
interaction), the system is really simple to use: turn
it on, wait for a pairing connection and adjust the
volume as needed.
Only the basic controls are provided; ;
large Multifunction button sits on the left side of the
face with the Volume Down and Volume Up buttons oriented
to the right side.
recessed (counter-sunk), including the three small
positioned to the right of the Multifunction button.
The three user buttons are just
slightly higher than the surface for tactile purposes.
By the same token, when wearing any type of gloves other
than thin rubber, the controls are difficult to manipulate.
This is fine when the module is stashed away under the
back/side-guard of the helmet or encased in the
protective housing, but it really detracts from (any)
required interaction. So unless the controls can be
accessed directly, manipulation of the system is best
left for those times when the bike is not moving.
This is one reason why AKE offers the optional remote
control component, which in fact is a feature that
webBikeWorld has previously identified as desirable for
functional and safety reasons
Volume control is good and unless I'm riding in an extremely
noisy environment, audio remains clear. Neither module
has the output that the
Scala Rider G4 (review)
or the F4 Interphone
(review) units are capable of, but this is
not totally unexpected given overall design, power
With the HTC Touch or Kyocera connected and music
streamed, the quality of the stereo headset is very
evident. I mounted the headset into my
some ad-hoc audio comparison purposes and I got what I
expected; that is, superb audio that rivals the Sena SMH10
As configured from the mobile device, all standard
functions are supported by the headset including
automatic answering. If manual intervention is needed, a
quick push of the Multifunction button will instantly
transfer the audio to the helmet, with any ongoing
stereo music streaming interrupted.
Another quick push ends the call, although it is
still better to let the other party end the call. A longer
push (two seconds) of the button rejects incoming calls. The 201 headset never fails to resume the stereo stream
either from the HTC Touch, the Kyocera or the zumo
Battery Life and Charging
Efficiency of the system is demonstrated by very good
battery life. I get about 3.5 hours
of use when streaming music with the odd interruption
from the navigation goddess and about 5-6 hours if I'm just using the
intercom intermittently and using audio navigation
Recharging the AKE 200 intercom units is simple, using the coaxial to USB cable
and/or the AC/DC adapter. Although not documented in any
of the Operating and User Instructions, the systems do
trickle charge when using only the USB connection. Faster charging is accomplished by using the AC/DC
Two complete intercoms: The
contents of the AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200
AKE Stealth 200 intercom, battery,
speakers, microphone and boom microphone.
Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200
- Bottom Line
||Small components and cables
are individually sealed in small plastic
successfully executed to create a small, low
profile system requiring minimal user
||This is very
tough and very subjective call.
Achieving the range and performance
demonstrated by the low-power intercom is
remarkable and everything works as
advertised, but the excitement is not here.
What really limits the potential of this
system is the single-function 201i headset.
This is a very real and very important
limitation when compared to virtually all
other systems on the market.
||Despite its low
power output, the intercom is extremely
effective. Overall this approach reduces
radiation (a good thing) and increases use
time (another good thing)
||As the base
system, the 201 and 201i modules do just
what they are supposed to do. The
intercom capability is just between the two
headsets. Multi-user requirements
would need to be addressed via
Audio Input & Control
connections made via Bluetooth are seamless
and work as advertised. Lacking an
auxiliary audio connection, all audio is via
supported Bluetooth profiles, limiting
multiple-device connectivity to an extent.
The AVRCP profile is also missing in action.
This feature is not
available, but should be. Although achievable when using
the optional external Bluetooth audio distribution
module, this would be a simple but attractive feature to
add to the basic 201 and 201i combination.
highest to lowest is: mobile phone,
navigation, intercom and music.
||No matter which
helmets the systems were installed in, audio
was crisp, virtually noise free and
maintained at useable levels thanks to the
booster circuitry. In the Nolan N-103
ear chamber, quality of the standard AKE
headset is on par with the Sena SMH10 system.
||While the sleek
201 module does not have all the
multi-channel bells and whistles found in
newer-to-market systems, its performance in
this category is on par with anything
evaluated to date.
Once paired and even with lapses of two
to three weeks, it would always find and
pair with a previous connection. I
can’t say the same about some of the newer
brands of other intercom systems we've
||There is no
provision for the use of in-ear (i.e.,
earbud) headsets. AKE does have many
options (alternate modules, higher quality
headsets and Bluetooth-based components)
that may be applicable to meet consumer
Very Good to
small size and modularity, the system is
very easy to install either internally or
externally and shaping the module into a
slight curve is a great design feature.
But when installed internally in the Arai
helmets, back or side, the module is
obtrusive, requiring a slow and
uncomfortable removal of the helmet. I
know that many other helmets will be more
Setup and Configuration
multifunction control and the LEDs make getting up,
running and off to the races simple and fast. The
operating and installation instructions (note the
ordering in the title) are easy to understand. Some
difficult phrasing is evident in both the German and
Ease of Use
Very Good to Excellent
= easy to use. Its "Stealth" features are both
facilitative and detractive.
If mounted externally, the
module is readily accessed but the recessed controls can
be hard to feel. When tucked away, the modules needs to
be pulled out slightly and activated, then tucked away
again. With practice it can be done while wearing the
helmet, before moving off, of course!
||The battery is
lightweight in size and capacity.
System efficiencies are obviously very good
based on a typical duty cycle for the
supplied and replaceable 250mAh battery.
My averages identified earlier are a bit
less than claimed, but still acceptable.
I wouldn't mind a longer duty cycle, without
having to spring for the optional 1000mAh
battery (although it would make a great
charged, the headsets perform as advertised.
Other than one intercom unit that had a
short microphone flex cable with a weak
mini-connector (evident when checking
everything initially), nothing has broken
during use, including after moving them
between multiple helmets.
|Maintenance and Support
of a defective cable was done within a
week and support from the AKE representative
and Cohesive Technology has been timely and
very helpful. For North American
consumers, having an active U.S. partner is
aggressive pricing is available, at a
converted price of $466 USD, the AKE Helmet
Set 200 is not inexpensive, particularly
when compared to newer generation twin-set
Bluetooth intercom bundles that can be had
for around $380.00 USD or less.
The premium for AKE products can
often be justified, especially for their upper-tier
systems, but in this instance, it’s a hard sell.
Even though the intercom components have a unique
"Stealth" size and the
system provides discrete fitment options not available
for most Bluetooth helmet products, only the 201 module
has any versatility and the secondary 201i module is
nothing more than one half of an intercom.
On the flip side however, if size and a discrete
installation are important, then value can be realized.
AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom 200:
Specifications, Ratings and Conformity
Module: Release 1.3
Bluetooth: Version 2.0 +EDR
Profiles: The 201
Headset has the Hands-Free and A2DP profiles.
The 201i has the Headset and Hands-Free profiles.
Range: 250 meters under open
field conditions (claimed).
3.75V, Capacity is 240 mAh. Charging time is a
hours. Continuous Duty Music Transmission is
claimed up to
six hours. Navigation voice announcement
hours. Standby claimed up to 72 hours. Note:
times are dependent upon the system operating mode.
Power: Charger is 5V DC,
Helmet Microphone: Noise
compensated "Electret" close-talking capsule.
32 Ohm. Output power is 0.2W (for each speaker).
Frequency range is 100 Hz to 10 Khz (standard)
Booster: Maximum output
power is 8 Ohm. Frequency range is 20 Hz to 20 Khz. Signal-to-Noise is 105 dB
Warranty: Two years
Conformity and Standards
FCC Compliance Statement:
RF: Not identified.
CE Declaration of Conformity: CE marked and declared
The equipment complies with the new European ROHS
I still have a soft spot for AKE products and I
still feel that their upper-tier offerings are among
the best on the market. But the basic Helmet
Set 200 system doesn’t do everything I hoped.
It is unique in many positive ways and based on
stated features, performance is not lacking overall,
especially from the intercom. While supporting A2DP and
thus stereo audio streaming, it is a simple system but
the other half of the system is nothing more than an
Bringing this already expensive Helmet Set 200 up to the
same level or beyond that of many other lower-priced
systems is totally viable, but the owner would have to purchase some expensive optional components.
The chance to evaluate this type of product is always
appreciated, especially those that don’t have a
significant North American presence, but being able to
configure, assess and evaluate just how good a system
can really be is only possible if we have access to the
entire range of standard and optional
In this instance, the optional pieces from AKE were
unfortunately not provided, but they may have the
potential to add some great capabilities and therefore
even more value to the overall system. My thought
is that the opportunity to evaluate the full range of
AKE products would be a good
thing for everyone.
Related Reviews: AKE
BT Multi-Interphone |
AKE Powercom |
AKE PowerCom INNOVA
Bluetooth Intercom Page |
Motorcycle Intercom Page
2010 Motorcycle Bluetooth Intercom Comparison and Final
Review: AKE Stealth Bluetooth Intercom
AKE Electronics (Germany) or
Cohesive Technology (U.S.A.)
||List Price: As listed on the AKE
website, 389,00 € or $466.00 USD.
|Colour: Silver, Black and Blue.
||Made in: Unknown
June 2010. Evaluation Period: December 2009 to June 2010. Note: Product
was provided by the manufacturer for this
The webBikeWorld intercom evaluators always wear properly
fitted ear plugs while riding during the intercom evaluations and this is reflected
in thee opinions on sound quality and speaker volume. Your experience may
and probably will differ. Always wear high-quality, correctly fitted ear plugs
when riding a motorcycle (more
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